New Winchester House in Mundelein more than halfway done

The new Winchester House skilled nursing facility being built on Route 45 southeast of Route 83 in Mundelein is more than halfway home, with its opening planned for mid-2020.

When complete, the 185-bed facility on a former driving range will end any remaining Lake County government connection with Winchester House, which opened in 1847 as a poor farm and evolved into a long-term, 24-hour skilled nursing facility.

"We're almost completely under roof at this point," said Brad Haber, principal with facility developer and owner Innovative Health LLC. "We're in pretty good shape."

One of the Lake County Board's last expected actions regarding the new Winchester House will ensure the comfort of its residents by allowing wider beds and mattresses than currently in use.

But that will be awhile, as work progresses to replace the existing five-story Winchester building at Milwaukee Avenue at Winchester Road that has been a highly visible fixture for generations on the Lake County government campus in Libertyville.

County involvement in the nursing home began to change as revenues fell and deficits rose when its resident population began to decline. In 2011, the county hired an outside firm to manage Winchester House. Eventually, officials reluctantly decided to get out of nursing home business altogether.

Traditional Care of Lake County, an entity of Rosemont-based Innovative Health LLC, has operated Winchester House since Aug. 1, 2015.

After county officials decided they didn't want to sink significant money into aging mechanical systems at the existing facility, they reached an agreement with Transitional Care clearing the way for a new, privately owned and operated Winchester House.

Under the deal, all residents living in the existing Winchester House will be able to live at the new facility, which may get a new name.

"Whatever it's called, we'll have all the care and characteristics of what's here," Haber said. "It's still the same reputation (for care). We're bringing over all the people."

Originally, the $30 million new Winchester House was to have been completed in the fall of 2018. However, financing-related issues delayed the groundbreaking until last December.

Besides skilled, long-term care for conditions including dementia, 79 of the beds at the new facility will be for patients undergoing short-term rehabilitation after procedures like hip replacements.

About 80% of Winchester House residents rely on Medicaid, a federal-state health insurance program for low-income people. That means residents who move will be paying the same amount.

Transitional Care's agreement also included the county's providing a subsidy of up to $6.7 million for the new facility. The county board last week agreed to increase that amount by $175,000 to provide better beds and mattresses at the new facility, but that additional money will come from a Winchester House donation fund.

"It's not county money. It's not taxpayer money," said Lake County Board member Steve Carlson, chairman of the board's health and community services committee.

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Groundbreaking planned Tuesday for new skilled nursing facility

  Workers concentrate Tuesday on the roof sections of the new Winchester House skilled nursing home under construction on Route 45 in Mundelein. Paul Valade/
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